On the Amazin' Avenue Facebook Page over the past few weeks, we've been asking Mets fans which player from Mets history they associate with a certain uniform number. This series proved to be very popular, so we decided the offseason would be a perfect opportunity to ask this same question to the general Amazin' Avenue readership! Each day, we'll post a different number with a few of the longest tenured or most well-known options for each uniform number up until we get to the #50. Be sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of the page!
We begin our look at the history of Mets uniform numbers with the loneliest of them all, #1. Despite the title, 1 hasn't been all that lonely throughout Mets history. In fact, courtesy of the incredible Mets By The Numbers, the number 1 has adorned a Mets player or coach's uniform 30 times in franchise history. Here are the four most nominated Mets to wear the #1:
Mookie Wilson (1980-1989, 1997-2002, 2011)
Mookie is by the far the longest to hold the number 1 in Mets history, wearing the number only a few months shy of going wire-to-wire through the 1980's. Having served two stints as a Mets coach, Wilson has worn the jersey number three separate times in total. Loved for his outstanding speed and most well known for his theatrics in the final inning ofGame 6 of the 1986 World Series, Wilson came up through the Mets' farm system, played center field for them, and hit .276/.318/.394 with 327 stolen bases in his 10 season tenure on the field with the organization before the Mets dealt him to the Blue Jays in July 1989.
Lance Johnson (1996-1997)
Despite only spending two seasons with the Mets organization, Lance Johnson's 1996 was arguably the best of his 14 season career. Signed as a free agent prior to 1996, Johnson hit .333/.362/.479 that year with a league-leading 227 hits and 21 triples to go along with 31 doubles, 9 home runs, and 50 stolen bases, all while playing center field. After receiving MVP votes and an All-Star appearance, Johnson split 1997 between the Mets and Cubs, who acquired him in a deal that brought the Mets CF Brian MacRae and relievers Turk Wendell and Mel Rojas.
Note: Johnson wore #51 on September 1, 1996 as he opted to give up his usual #1 as a tribute to Mookie Wilson, who was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame that day.
Luis Castillo (2007-2010)
Well known for long serving as a thorn in the Mets side over 10 seasons while playing with the Florida Marlins, the Mets acquired Castillo in July 2007 from the Twins to fill in for an injured Jose Valentin down the stretch. Castillo hit like vintage Castillo the last two months of 2007 but after the Mets missed the playoffs, he became a free agent. With a multi-year offer in hand, the Mets beat it with a four-year pact that would lock the aging second baseman in through 2011. Unfortunately, Castillo's trademark speed and defense had deteriorated due to knee issues and Castillo hit a disappointing .274/.366/.324 during his Mets tenure with subpar defense. Still owed $6 million in 2011, the Mets released him during spring training.
Vince Coleman (1991-1992)
After dealing Mookie and Lenny Dykstra in the late 1980's, the Mets went looking for a sparkplug leadoff hitter prior to 1991 and inked the Cardinals' speedster Coleman to a multi-year contract. Unfortunately, Coleman underachieved with the Mets as he never cracked 38 stolen bases during his Mets tenure (for reference, his season low with the Cardinals was 65). Coleman's injury issues combined with a bristly personality also caused trouble. He got into fights with coach Mike Cubbage and manager Jeff Torborg, injured Dwight Gooden while swinging a golf club in the clubhouse, and famously injured three children by throwing a lit firecracker into a crowd. After this, the Mets suspended Coleman for the rest of the season (not his first suspension with the organization), thankfully ending his Mets tenure.
Our Amazin' Avenue Facebook poll saw Mookie Wilson run away with the honor, while all three players noted above also received votes. Bobby Valentine, Jordany Valdespin, Lute Barnes, and Chris Young also received mentions.